Abstract

In this paper we offer a new explanatory tool, called ‘dynamic research sketching’ useful for mapping and understanding how research through design can be a vehicle for theory construction. ‘Research through design’ is often used as an all-inclusive umbrella term for research practices that recognize the process of designing and making an artifact as a legitimate method of inquiry. However, even though this type of research is thus grounded in design practice there are many different ways in which the process of designing and making an artifact can be used as a method of inquiry in order to explore a research question. Occasionally, the lack of a systematic methodology for research through design being able to make clarifications and distinctions between various methods has been pointed out. Yet, only few attempts have been made to compensate for this lack. In this paper, the aim is to make a first step toward such a methodology. Initially, we set the scene by providing a critical examination of existing literature on the subject. Then, we demonstrate the explanatory strength of dynamic research sketching by applying it to three case examples. In so doing, we uncover three different methods for using design practice as a vehicle for theory construction. Finally, we discuss and conclude on our findings by holding them up against our critique of existing frameworks.

Keywords

research methods, theory construction, research-throughdesign

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Dynamic Research Sketching – A new explanatory tool for understanding theory construction in design research

In this paper we offer a new explanatory tool, called ‘dynamic research sketching’ useful for mapping and understanding how research through design can be a vehicle for theory construction. ‘Research through design’ is often used as an all-inclusive umbrella term for research practices that recognize the process of designing and making an artifact as a legitimate method of inquiry. However, even though this type of research is thus grounded in design practice there are many different ways in which the process of designing and making an artifact can be used as a method of inquiry in order to explore a research question. Occasionally, the lack of a systematic methodology for research through design being able to make clarifications and distinctions between various methods has been pointed out. Yet, only few attempts have been made to compensate for this lack. In this paper, the aim is to make a first step toward such a methodology. Initially, we set the scene by providing a critical examination of existing literature on the subject. Then, we demonstrate the explanatory strength of dynamic research sketching by applying it to three case examples. In so doing, we uncover three different methods for using design practice as a vehicle for theory construction. Finally, we discuss and conclude on our findings by holding them up against our critique of existing frameworks.

 

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